Death during simulation: A literature review

Benjamin J. Heller, Samuel DeMaria, Daniel Katz, Joshua A. Heller, Andrew T. Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Introduction: One of the goals of simulation is to teach subjects critical skills and knowledge applicable to live encounters, without the risk of harming actual patients. Although simulation education has surged in medical training over the last two decades, several ethically challenging educational methods have arisen. Simulated death has arisen as one of these challenging issues and currently there is no consensus regarding how to best manage this controversial topic in the simulated environment. The goal of this review is to analyze how simulated mortality has been used and discover whether or not this tool is beneficial to learners. Methods: In May 2016, the authors performed a literature search on both Pubmed and the Cochrane database using multiple variations of keywords; they then searched bibliographies and related articles. Results: There were 901 articles acquired in the initial search. The authors eliminated articles that were not relevant to the subject matter. After adding articles from bibliographies and related articles, the authors included the 43 articles cited in this article. Discussion: As a result, the authors of this article believe that death, when used appropriately in simulation, can be an effective teaching tool and can be used in a responsible manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-322
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethics
  • Faculty development
  • Interprofessional education
  • Patient safety
  • Professionalism
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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